This is the blog of Steve Burkett of Italy, Our Italy

Before and After

Scott Kelby - Founder of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals

Scott Kelby - Founder of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals

As you read this, I am in Las Vegas at the 2015 Photoshop World Conference & Expo. This is a come-together of photographers from all over the world who use Photoshop in their photo processing. The Conference provides three days of intensive training in all aspects of Photoshop.


The word ‘Photoshop’, like the word ‘darkroom’, it’s not a four-letter word.

Photoshop has taken the place of the old-fashioned darkroom of yesteryear -- and it is oh, so much better than working in a darkroom with all of those temperature-critical chemicals, and for color, the total confusion of total darkness -- I've been there and it wasn't particularly fun. As I've mentioned before, the processing of the photo in Photoshop and Lightroom (Photoshop's snazzy cousin) is where pure joy enters the picture for me.

So today, I've decided to give you a before and after of a photo that I took in Venice a couple of years ago...a photo that was modified using Photoshop.

Photoshop has taken a rap for the many faked photos that people have created (some obviously for humorous spoofing, but many to pull the wool over our eyes). But I say, count the letters in 'Photoshop' -- the word 'Photoshop', like the word 'darkroom', it's not a four-letter word. Photoshop puts much power in the photographers hands, and like any other power, it must be used judiciously. 

In my past blog titled The Venice That Isn’t There I showed you how I have transformed several doors to bring those doors back to the time that they were created by the Italian craftsmen.

This week I want to continue in that vein, but I'll use one of the many religious shrines to demonstrate. These shrines can be found throughout Italy, and in particular Venice.

Just below you see one of the many ancient, charming, religious shrines. Each shrine is dedicated to a particular saint and when created, it was adorned with paintings, statues, and/or relics related to that saint. Who is this particular shrine dedicated to? I’m not really sure -- some shrines have obvious evidence of the honoree and some do not.

If you look hard, you can see a painting of the saint (dark robe) holding the young Christ (yellow top). You can also see that shrines receive continuing adornment from those who respect that particular saint. Though the flowers in the photo are artificial, I've seen many shrines with fresh flowers left by their fans.

Some shrines also act as a collection station for alms for the poor. In a future blog, I will show a shrine dedicated to Saint Antonio which has such an offerings box. 

So, what does this particular shrine look like today as you walk through Venice?

Here is the before photo, just below. This photo shows a shrine that must have looked impressive in the days in which it was created, but now finds drab surroundings. So, this is where Photoshop comes in.

Note that I’ve eliminated the electrical conduit that courses down the wall and then into the shrine.

In addition, the unsightly concrete recess below the shrine has been removed...most likely a niche for the former alms box.

I found the crumbling plaster remnant to the right of the shrine to be distracting, so it was eliminated. At one point, plaster covered this whole wall, but time and weather have taken their toll.

As I looked further after eliminating distractions, the ancient, crumbling, underlying brickwork seemed a bit too bright, and it competed with the shrine for attention, so I gave it a richer and darker appearance.

Lastly, I made a significant crop to the photo to eliminate many of the distracting elements, to fill the frame with the shrine itself, and to put it into a vertical format. Now the shrine is taking center stage.

In the final analysis, the finished photo is more in line with how it would have looked 600 years ago without the modern, distracting elements. I hope you appreciate the transformation. And I hope you can appreciate the power of Photoshop.

If you haven't taken a look at the doors of The Venice That Isn’t There, give it a look to see more on my use of Photoshop to de-modernize Italy.

I'll have more Before and Afters in the future, so stay tuned.


Ciao for now,